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Kodak buys digital conversion technology
Old 05-12-2003, 04:32 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Kodak Buys Digital Conversion Technology

May 12, 5:10 PM (ET)


(AP) In a move aimed at plugging a gap between photography's old and new ways of capturing images, Kodak...
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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) - Eastman Kodak Co. said Monday it is acquiring rapid film processing technology to enable its retail-based photo kiosks to convert a roll of film into a digital CD in seven minutes.

In a move aimed at plugging a gap between photography's old and new ways of capturing images, Kodak is buying the assets of Applied Science Fiction Inc., of Austin, Texas, including a patented system called Digital Processing and Image Capture.

Kodak said it will install the system in its 18,000 U.S. kiosks, which are located mainly in pharmacies, supermarkets and photo-specialty stores. It declined to specify a target date or divulge plans for its 22,000 kiosks abroad.

The terms of the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, were not disclosed. But an industry source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Kodak is paying less than $50 million.

The world's biggest photography company is seeking ways to shore up its traditional film and photofinishing business, a cash cow for much of the 20th century that is being steadily eroded by the rise of digital photography.

Kodak is anticipating a roughly 5 percent drop in U.S. film industry sales this year. At the same time, it is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars a year into digital research to keep pace with a new raft of competitors from the computer arena.

Customers usually have to wait for hours or days to convert film to digital images because the film needs to be scanned and printed after being developed.

The new technology rapidly speeds up the process by cutting out the developing and scanning steps. It enables customers to preview and select their pictures as well as crop, zoom in on or alter the color, brightness and composition as they please.

"Our goal is to give consumers greater flexibility, capability and access to their pictures taken with photographic film or digital cameras," said Dan Palumbo, president of Kodak's consumer imaging division.

"We are putting all of that power, including innovative film processing, in the hands of consumers. All of our research tells us that's exactly what consumers want."

Applied Science Fiction, which was set up in 1995, said it has successfully tested the technology at retail outlets in the United States and Germany. More than 150 patents will make it difficult for competitors to match it, it said.

In trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Kodak shares rose 13 cents to close Monday at $30.40.

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